Aligning Policy to Promote Cascade Genetic Screening for Prevention and Early Diagnosis of Heritable Diseases

Rani George, Karen Kovak, Summer L. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cascade genetic screening is a methodology for identifying and testing close blood relatives of individuals at increased risk for heritable conditions and follows a sequential process, minimizing testing costs and the number of family members who need to be tested. It offers considerable potential for cost savings and increased awareness of heritable conditions within families. CDC-classified Tier 1 genomic applications for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC), Lynch Syndrome (LS), and familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) are recommended for clinical use and support the use of cascade genetic screening. Most individuals are unaware of their increased risk for heritable conditions such as HBOC, LS, and FH. Consistent implementation of cascade genetic screening could significantly increase awareness and prevention of heritable conditions. Limitations to effective implementation of cascade genetic screening include: insufficient genetic risk assessment and knowledge by a majority of healthcare providers without genetics credentials; a shortage of genetic specialists, especially in rural areas; a low rate of reimbursement for comprehensive genetic counseling services; and an individual focus on prevention by clinical guidelines and insurance coverage. The family-centric approach of cascade genetic screening improves prevention and early diagnosis of heritable diseases on a population health level. Cascade genetic screening could be better supported and augmented through changes in health policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-399
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 18 2015

Keywords

  • Cascade genetic screening
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia
  • Genetic counseling
  • Healthcare reform
  • Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Heritable disease
  • Lynch syndrome
  • Policy change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)

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